Writing a resume and cover letter

Close up picture of a laptop

Did you know 8 out of 10 resumes are discarded after just a 10 second glance?

Making your job application eye-catching gives you the best chance of success.

Your cover letter and resume should succinctly demonstrate your ability to the employer reading it.

It should be easy to read and list your skills, experience, any education and qualifications that are relevant to the role you're applying for.

It’s about selling your skills and capabilities and demonstrating that you’re the best person for the job.

Here’s some tips on preparing a great resume:

Layout and presentation

  • Use a resume template – there are many available to download for free online.
  • Keep it simple and easy to read with a standard font 10 or larger.
  • If you need to print your resume, do it on good quality paper.
  • Be direct and concise, keep your sentences short (1-2 lines maximum).
  • Always check your spelling and grammar and have a someone proofread it for you.

Clearly demonstrate the benefits of hiring you

Don’t just describe your responsibilities or duties, include descriptions of your achievements.

For example:

  • Served customers in a 100 person venue and memorised the specials menu each day.
  • Experience with POS sales terminals, Eftpos machines, receipt roll replacement and coffee machine cleaning - asked to demonstrate these processes to new employees.
  • Recognised as 'Employee of the Month' in December 2020, while managing a team of 3 people.


Personal contact details

Include your:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Mobile phone number
  • Email address

The more ways you give someone the chance to contact you, the better.

Skills summary

List your top 5 skills relevant to the role along with a short description, e.g.:

  • Problem solving – I am adaptable in fast-paced environments such a warehouses and cafes and capable of using my initiative while managing multiple tasks

The desirable skills for a role can be found in the job description. You can find out the difference between skills and competencies to know which to add.

Work history

Start with your most recent job and work backwards. Include:

  • Company name
  • Position title or positions held
  • Duration of employment (e.g. December 2019 - July 2020)
  • Key duties and responsibilities
  • Any key achievements in this role
  • If you have had gaps in your employment history, assume you will be asked about it and have a short explanation of why

Education and qualifications

Include any tertiary training, trade certificate, degree / diploma or online course listing the most recent first.

After these you can list any current licenses, blue card, or if you are fluent in any languages.

Furthermore, first aid certificates, bronze medallion or working with children checks are great to add in this section.


Here you can list any volunteering work you have done. You can include volunteering at events, with a charity or not-for-profit group or as part of a team like a board or committee.


Include the names and contact details (phone number and email address) of two people who have agreed to act as referees for you.

Past employers are ideal if they will provide positive feedback. Otherwise, you could also include include family friends, or a teacher where the course is relevant to the job you are applying for.

Make sure you have their permission to include their details.

For example:

  • Jane Citizen, Office Manager at Example Business Pty Ltd, jane@examplebusiness.com.au, 0400 000 000

Resume do's

  • Ensure your resume is error free by checking spelling and grammar
  • Have a friend read over and provide feedback
  • Include key words that ‘mirror’ what the advertised job is asking for
  • Highlight your strengths and capabilities
  • Back-up your achievements with supporting statements
  • Research the company before the interview, your effort will show throughout the interview
  • Use action words - e.g. improved, planned, reduced, negotiated, facilitated, helped, assisted, collaborated with, trained, teamed with, served, worked with etc.
  • Ask yourself, ‘does this resume sell me as best as it can?’

Support your application with an awesome cover letter

Your cover letter is the other essential part of any job application.

The content of your cover letter complements your resume and provides an additional opportunity to sell yourself as the best person for the job.

There are many good templates for cover letters online, however it is essential you tailor each cover letter for every application you submit.

Generally the cover letter is read first (by a human being or scanned by HR software), so it's your first chance to impress!

Some tips for writing an awesome cover letter:

  • To open your cover letter, address the person or use 'Dear Madam/Sir'. Add a line break and words to the effect of 'My name is Jane Doe and I am writing to apply for the position of Warehouse Logistics Assistant at Wicked Warehouses, advertised on your website'.
  • Have a strong opening statement that makes clear why you want the job and what you bring to the table.
  • Say why you're applying for the role in 1-2 sentences - do some research on the company, a bit of background knowledge will add substance to your letter.
  • Keep to the point; be sure to tell the employer how great you are in relation to the specific skills and attributes that they are looking for.
  • Share an accomplishment that shows you can address the challenges the employer is facing.
  • To 'sign off' you letter, thank the person reading for considering your application and that you look forward to hearing from them.

Make your cover letter extra special

  • Depending on the role and selection criteria you may need to address - a good length for a cover letter is up to a page.
  • Don't send the same cover letter, it's important to tailor a cover letter for every job you apply for.
  • Use positive and upbeat language to keep the reader interested.
  • Use action words - e.g. improved, planned, reduced, negotiated, facilitated, helped, assisted, collaborated with, trained, teamed with, served, worked with etc.
  • Before you send, ensure spelling and grammar are correct.

Can't submit a cover letter?

You might encounter a business who doesn't require or allow for a cover letter to be submitted.

There ways you can still communicate your strengths and enthusiasm and strengths for the role.

  • Copy and paste your cover letter in to the first page of your resume document, you can get someone to help you do this if you're not sure how to do it.
  • You can try to find someone in the business to whom you can send a brief follow up email or brief telephone call highlighting a few key points about your application.